My name is Chris Miller, and I’m glad that you made your way here.
I build and repair fretted musical instruments; my main interest is building relative reproductions (tributes?) of acoustic guitars from the 1930’s. I have studied and made templates of exceptional Gibson guitars of the 1930s and early 1940s, and I have dedicated myself to living up to (if not exceeding) the standard set by these remarkable instruments. I am currently taking commissions for L-OO and J-45 styles, and 14-fret O bodied guitars. I am aware that my base price is low within the industry, which reflects my relative inexperience. I’ll be honest-I am figuring things out. As a one-man shop, work goes slowly; I work side jobs, and I’ve recently been married to a wonderful woman. I am very proud of the instruments I’ve built, and they are serving their working-musician owners as the tools they’re intended to be. I stand behind my instruments, as a craftsman and repairman, and I invite you to join me in my journey.
My goal as a builder is to build lifelong relationships with musicians. I transform raw material into beautiful and functional guitars, and bring the best old guitars into the reach of working people like myself. I’d love to have a glass case full of old Gibsons and Martins; but rather than getting into investment banking, I’ll focus on what I do best and make them myself.
As a lifelong mechanic and tinkerer, I also work as a bicycle tech, and fix up old cars. If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll get a pretty good idea of my day-to-day work.
I grew up in beautiful Sonoma, California. My father is a self-taught electrical engineer, ham radio operator, mechanic, sailor, and jack-of-all-trades. I owe all of my curiosity, mechanical aptitude, and grit to that man. I spent much of my younger years going backpacking, sailing the San Fransisco Bay and lakes around Northern CA, practicing Amateur Radio, and learning to weld/fabricate while fixing/modifying a series of older 4X4s (a ’79 IH Scout, a couple of ’85 4Runners, etc.). I discovered road cycling and clawhammer banjo around age 18, and devoted myself to riding bikes, playing music, and living a healthier life. After several years of community college, I moved to the east coast to attend Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. I received a BA in Philosophy after my stint, but I figured at the time that my diploma should actually have said “Feminism, Farmwork, and Banjo”. I discovered woodworking in the campus woodshop, making myself a walnut and sycamore fretless banjo neck for an old spunover rim…and I was hooked. After finishing college in 2009, I found a place where my interests in music, cycling, and community could reach their full potential, and I found an exciting and welcoming community here in Portland, Oregon. After several years of woodworking self-study and a year-long internship with Brooks Masten (an excellent Banjo Maker), I attended the Guitar Building and Repair Program at Minnesota Southeast Technical in Red Wing, MN. Upon completion of the program in May 2013, I returned to Portland to continue my studies and build a shop.
While living in PDX, I had the pleasure of working with excellent musicians, beautiful vintage instruments, a great repair shop (The 12th Fret), and built a lovely little shop in SE Portland. I shared the building with two bicycle framebuilders, a printmaker, and another guitarmaker, Nate Wood. In 2017, my wife and I relocated to my hometown of Sonoma.
In my spare time (Ha!), I play old time/early bluegrass music with The Coupe Duet, The Portland Cut-Ups, The Jack Dwyer Band, and other various arrangements. I have a weekly Sunday Brunch gig at P’s and Q’s Market with the wonderful violinmaker Jamie Herrmann. I also enjoy fixing up old cars. Recently, I partially restored a “barn find” 1955 Desoto Firedome, and my Wife and I are slowly restoring the once and future family car, a 1956 Chevrolet 210 Beauville Wagon. I mostly get around Portland on a beautiful Trek 790 lugged steel road bike (heavily modified, of course). I like old stuff.
Please feel free to contact me with questions and inquiries:
chris@cmillerguitars dot com
Please see more of my photography work, please visit my flickr page:
And follow me on Instagram: